Happy October to you all! (Well, it’s October when I’m writing this. Perhaps, it’s November or December by the time you get around to reading this.) October is domestic violence awareness month. I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you my experience with domestic violence. I’ve wanted to share this for a long time, I just…haven’t.
Trust me, it’s not because I’m scared or timid. It’s mostly because I wouldn’t know what I’d say. I could walk you through everything that happened. I could sit here, and within a few pages articulate my story. You may feel bad for me, you may identify with me, but nothing will really come of that. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t important for DV victims to share their story. Is is. That’s just not what I want to do today. It’s not what I feel God is calling me to do… So, instead, I’m taking a different direction with this blog. I’m going to share with you all how healing, as in divine healing can happen after domestic violence.
**Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor a therapist. I’m merely walking you through my experience. I am in no way offering professional psychological advice. If you are currently in a DV situation or are suffering from the aftermath of DV, please seek professional help. God bless! **
For me, there were 4 giant steps I had to take in healing from domestic violence. I had to forgive my abuser, I had to forgive myself, I had to rekindle broken relationships, and I had to reclaim my faith.
Forgiving your abuser: When I finally broke away from the abusive relationship I was in, I spent a lot of time being angry. I was angry at my abuser for taking years of my life away, years I would never get back. I was angry at him for cheating on me, calling me names, demeaning me, hitting me, pushing me, shoving me, stealing from me, and forcing me to disconnect from people that I loved. Anger is easy. It’s a go-to reaction. It comes so But it’s so unhealthy. It’s not what God wants for us. There is no easy fix. You can’t just say “abracadabra! You’re forgiven!” and expect something magical to happen. You’ll have to forgive your abuser over and over again. Every time you feel the anger, the bitterness, and the pain well inside of you, take a moment to pray. “Jesus, I need your peace. Help me forgive. Help me to show grace.” Your abuser may not deserve your forgiveness: do it anyway. Trust me; it’s the first step towards healing.
Forgive yourself: Domestic violence is never the fault of the victim. Never. And I will say that until the day I die. I don’t care how much you nagged, how much you whined, or how terrible you were. You are not responsible for the sins of your abuser. Their sins are their responsibility and theirs alone. However, victims often blame themselves. Usually, when they’re in an abusive relationship, they take responsibility for their partner’s behavior. When they disconnect from that toxicity, perhaps they realize the abuse wasn’t their fault, but they start to wonder how they could have possibly let this happen. For me, I remember thinking, “How could I have been so stupid?” I had studied mental health and worked in the field. I knew every single warning sign of an abusive relationship. I came from a good home! Stuff like this doesn’t happen to girls like me. If this sounds like you, forgive yourself. I can tell you until I’m blue in the face that is isn’t your fault, and you probably won’t believe me. I didn’t believe it. So, just forgive yourself. I stayed in a harmful and abusive relationship, and I’m forgiving myself for not getting away sooner. (And no, I am not, in anyway blaming victims. BUT, if you are hanging onto guilt, let it go, sunshine.)
Rekindle broken relationships: As I mentioned earlier, I disconnected from many of my friends and family while in an abusive relationship. Rekindle those relationships. AND (bonus tip), not only should you reconnect with friends and family, get back to doing the things you once loved. When I was dating my abuser, he hated when I played my guitar. Now, anyone who knows me is well aware that I play my guitar every single day. Every day is a musical in my home. And frankly, not to toot my own horn, I’m pretty good at it. But for whatever reason, he didn’t like it. I remember the very first time I played my guitar around a fire with my friends and family after leaving my abuser…it was the first time in years I felt alive. So call up your old friends and family and get coffee. Do the things you used to love before your DV experience. Get back to being
Reclaim your faith: I was so blessed to find a therapist who was a Christian. She encouraged me to spend time in prayer and reading my Bible. Ultimately, God is the true healer. (And this is the point where I start to cry while typing.) My abusive relationship left behind a lot of scars, but Jesus is enough. He is so much bigger than our pain. He is so much bigger than our anger. His love is so much more powerful than any abuse we experience. Cling to Him. Fix your eyes on Him. Read your Bible and pray more than you ever have in your life. And it’s okay to confide in someone at your church. Let them pray with you and for you.
I can sit here today and honestly say that I am completely free from abuse. I am not angry, I am not sad, I am not bitter. I am free. And you can be too. That is the power of Christ, folks.
In closing: This blog was written for folks who’ve already left their abusers and are safe. If you are currently in a DV situation and you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, please seek help. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for referrals of shelters and agencies near you.